Most of Florida's third graders will get to find out whether they passed the required state reading test before the school year ends, after all.
The Florida Department of Education, under pressure from parents and educators to get the scores out before classes conclude this week, quietly released the results just before 5 p.m. Thursday.
"Staff has been working nonstop to get the results out as soon as possible," department spokeswoman Audrey Walden said.
Testing occurred later than anticipated this year, because of two fall hurricanes that led to several missed class days.
Individual student outcomes went to their schools, where teachers can contact parents as soon as possible More than half of the districts finish the year on Friday.
The composite results are very similar to those of a year ago. This spring, 20 percent of children statewide earned a Level 1 score, which sets them up to repeat the grade.
Those students have other opportunities to earn promotion, including passing an alternate test and submitting a portfolio of class work that demonstrates they can read at an entering fourth grade level. Until those options are evaluated, the retention rate is not set.
By comparison, 19 percent of third graders scored at Level 1 a year ago.
Overall, 57 percent of the students logged in at Level 3 or higher, which is considered at or above grade level. Three years ago, 53 percent of students reached that score.
In the Tampa Bay area, Hernando County schools had 62 percent of students at Level 3 or higher, while Hillsborough County had 53 percent, Pasco County had 57 percent and Pinellas County had 53 percent.
Some of the area's most frequently low performing elementary schools saw some improvements.
Melrose Elementary in St. Petersburg had 42 percent of students at Level 1, down from 50 percent a year ago. B.T. Washington Elementary in Tampa went to 51 percent of students in the bottom level, an improvement from 59 percent a year ago.
And Moton Elementary in Brooksville moved the needle slightly, to 34 percent at Level 1 from 35 percent a year ago.
The results will factor into state grades, which come out over the summer. Those grades are used to determine whether schools must create improvement plans, which could lead to closure or takeover by an outside entity.